Nurse forced to adapt without crowd noise

Empty arenas forcing coaches to adapt play calling with opposing teams listening
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Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse might want to think about adding someone with some baseball experience to his staff for the rest of the season, maybe even former Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.

Less than a minute into the game, Nurse said he began barking out orders to his Raptors when he realized just how quiet the arena was without fans.

"I caught myself stopping about halfway through because all 10 players were listening to me instead of just my five," Nurse said. "I think when there's crowd, music, your guys are used to kind of hearing you.

"That was noticeable, that you maybe are not gonna be able to just bark out whatever you wanna do, and if you do, they're gonna know, they're gonna hear it."

Nurse joked about having to wear a hat during games as his sign indicator as if he were a third-base coach sending signals across the diamond for a hit-and-run.

The silence will be a challenge for Nurse who will have to come up with some sort of system to communicate with his players without opposing teams listening.

"I did some call some plays, we've got kind of a numbering system, and I just kind of sit back and do the numbers," Nurse said. "That way you don't have to say something. But yeah, we've talked about thinking about some other ways to try to get some things across."

For the players, the silence in the arena was equally strange. It allowed them to focus on the game more without being distracted by the crowd.

"Nothing to look at," Raptors forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said. "You get to talk to your teammates, focus on the game a little bit more."

That added focus comes with a little bit less energy, though. Siakam said playing without fans didn't affect him much, but managing the team's energy without fans is certainly something to monitor.

"I think we just gotta figure out a way to give each other energy and I think the bench is gonna be important or whenever you’re on the bench, having that energy to kinda like boost your teammates," Siakam said. "I think that’s what it’s gonna take, at the end of the day that’s what we need, that’s what it’s gonna be like we have to get used to it."